Thursday ReadsPosted: March 8, 2012
I just love the New Yorker cover with Rick Santorum riding in the dog carrier on top of Mitt Romney’s car. Isn’t it great? Santorum has been “dogging” Romney’s footsteps around the country, nipping at his heels, so to speak. I hope he won’t have an “accident” up there on Romney’s car roof.
I read some interesting analysis of the Super Tuesday results at The Daily Beast yesterday. You may have read the same articles already, but I still think they are worth discussing.
Michelle Goldberg explains why comparing Romney to John Kerry doesn’t quite work.
Yes, both are rich, socially maladroit, and from Massachusetts. Both have a history of being less than steadfast on important issues. But if Democrats weren’t ecstatic about Kerry in 2004, most still found him broadly acceptable. He had a history as a dashing liberal hero, returning from Vietnam to become a leading voice against that hated war. Certainly, he disappointed liberals by voting for the Iraq invasion, but he otherwise shared their values.
Romney, by contrast, is limping toward the Republican nomination despite being rejected, over and over again, by the Republican base. In this respect, he’s more like Joe Lieberman, who was despised by his party’s grassroots even before he endorsed John McCain for president….[I]t’s hard to recall the last time either party nominated someone so far out of step with its basic ethos. What this means is, should Romney lose to Obama, our politics will get even more poisonous, as activist conservatives blame their party’s perceived moderation for its failure.
Which is why I wish Rick Santorum would win the nomination. It would be a disaster of Goldwater proportions, and maybe the party would begin to understand that they are completely out of sync with most Americans.
Michael Tomasky had some advice for Mitt Romney:
Romney eked it out in Ohio, but he still managed to emerge bruised from Super Tuesday. He won Massachusetts. Big woop. Vermont, ditto. In Virginia, he won, but he won in as embarrassing a fashion as it’s possible to win something. With only him and cranky Ron Paul on the ballot, Romney managed just 59 percent of the vote to Paul’s 41. When Ron Paul is winning 41 percent of the vote, it’s time to stop and smell the rotting roses. And then Romney won some caucuses in some who-cares states that would vote red in November if Rush Limbaugh’s hamster was on the ballot, and that in any case have about as many electoral votes as Baltic Street has value in Monopoly. Who cares?
But, says Tomasky, Romney doesn’t seem to get that no one really likes him and he’s only winning because people think maybe he has a better chance in the general election than the other wingnut candidates. According to Tomasky, on Tuesday night Romney just gave his regular stump speech–which hasn’t been revised even though the economy has been improving and Obama has been doing much better in the polls.
He just seems to think that he can outspend these absurdly underfinanced opponents, bury them, these doorstep foundlings, these third-raters, pound them into submission with attack ads, and move on to the next quarry….
Romney has to do something dramatic to change the narrative, says Tomasky.
But everything we’ve seen from the guy shows that he’s completely incapable. He’ll keep grinding out just the number of wins he needs, by just the margins he needs. Remember Mario Cuomo’s famous and brilliant quote, about how a politician campaigns in poetry but governs in prose? Romney campaigns in prose. And dull prose. He’s the James Fennimore Cooper of the hustings. Makes you wonder how he’d govern, but fortunately, it seems we’ll never know.
I love that! “The James Fennimore Cooper of the hustings.” It’s so true. Romney is dull as dirt.
But the Romney camp is claiming it’s all over, despite their candidate’s weak showing in Ohio.
Mitt Romney’s campaign gathered the national press corps in their campaign war room this morning to deliver a simple message: It would take an “act of God” for any candidate not named Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination.
The Boston-based campaign projected confidence in Romney’s ability to win the nomination given the emerging delegate math in the campaign following last night’s Super Tuesday contests. “We will get to 1,144 whether it’s on someone else’s timeline, or on our timeline,” said one top Romney aide. “We will get to 1,144 and be the Republican nominee.”
It kind of reminds me of 2008, when the Obama crowd kept yakking about “the math” and screaming “why won’t the stupid bitch quit?” Somehow I don’t think Santorum is going to quit after he trounced Romney in Tennessee and came within one percentage point of beating him in Ohio. The next few primaries will be in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kansas–not friendly territory for Romney.
On Tuesday, I wrote a post about the irresponsible speeches the Republican candidates made to AIPAC that morning.
Most irresponsible of all was the speech by Mitt Romney, in which he claimed in the face of strong evidence to the contrary that the Iranians “are making rapid progress” toward building nuclear weapons. He basically called the current Secretary of Defense and the President liars. He has also been going around the country claiming that if Barack Obama is reelected there will definitely be nuclear war. I can’t believe he’s been getting away with it for so long.
I’m glad to report that John Kerry has an op-ed in today’s Washington Post in which he counters Romney’s irresponsible lies. Kerry writes:
While wise Republicans stress the perils of loose war talk and the value of engagement to isolate Iran, Romney seeks to create political division with an attack on the Obama administration’s Iran policy that is as inaccurate as it is aggressive.
I join this debate because the nuclear issue with Iran is deadly serious business. It should invite sobriety and thoughtfulness, not sloganeering and sound bites. The stakes are far too high for it to become just another applause line on the stump. Idle talk of war only helps Iran by spooking the tight oil market and increasing the price of the Iranian crude that pays for its nuclear program.
Creating false differences with President Obama to score political points does nothing to move Iran off a dangerous nuclear course. Worse, Romney does not even do Americans the courtesy of describing how he would do anything different from what the Obama administration has already done.
Kerry provides specific examples of Romney’s “wrongheaded” statements, so go read the whole thing if you can. Thank goodness one senior Democrat has finally slapped Romney down.
Charlie Pierce has a post on the “respectable” pundits who are now defending Rush Limbaugh. First it was Bill Maher, and yesterday Michael Kinsley chimed in. Here’s Pierce’s takedown of former New Republic editor Kinsley:
And then there is Michael Kinsley, a man who has dedicated his life to bringing Olympian insufferability to an art form. Kinsley is what you’d get if you infused David Brooks with the madcap humor you find around the doughnut cart at The New Republic. You see, says Michael, everybody involved in this is just a big fake because nobody really believes anything anyway, and oxen are always being gored, and it’s all a silly stupid game, so suck it up, Sandra. Tell your folks about the marketplace of ideas:
Nevertheless, the self-righteous parade out the door by Limbaugh’s advertisers is hard to stomach. Had they never listened to Rush before, in all the years they had been paying for commercials on his show? His sliming of a barely known law student may be a new low — even after what he’s said about Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Obama — but it’s not a huge gap.
This is Kinsley being deliberately stupid, probably because he figures that’s the only thing the lesser orders out here understand. We can’t do the right thing now because we didn’t do the right thing then? We couldn’t criticize George Wallace for being a racist in 1963 because we didn’t criticize James Vardaman for being one in 1918? Murrow’s broadcast on Joe McCarthy was somehow illegitimate because he hadn’t been doing one a week for the previous three years? Watergate doesn’t count because LBJ bugged Nixon’s plane? The concept of critical mass is just another “insincere” function of our politics? And, I am sorry, but what he did to “a barely known law student” is the whole goddamn point. Kinsley’s imperial disdain has led him into a cul de sac of glibly arrogant misanthropy.
Go read the rest. It’s brilliant!
In other news, The New York Times has an article on a scientist who has developed a machine that will dramatically bring down the cost of gene sequencing and pave the way for medical advances.
In Silicon Valley, the line between computing and biology has begun to blur in a way that could have enormous consequences for human longevity.
Bill Banyai, an optical physicist at Complete Genomics, has helped make that happen. When he began developing a gene sequencing machine, he relied heavily on his background at two computer networking start-up companies. His digital expertise was essential in designing a factory that automated and greatly lowered the cost of mapping the three billion base pairs that form the human genome.
The promise is that low-cost gene sequencing will lead to a new era of personalized medicine, yielding new approaches for treating cancers and other serious diseases.
There’s a scary article at Alternet on “The Religious Right’s Plot To Take Control Of Our Public Schools.” It’s a review of a book by Katherine Stewart, “The Good News Club: The Stealth Assault on America’s Children.” Here’s the teaser line:
The people who brought you “Jesus Camp” are moving into your neighborhood school. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
Yikes! Go check it out.
Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about?